Either I’ve been totally involved with work, blogging and other stuff, but when this press release about NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football premiering next week arrived in the Fang’s Bites inbox, it totally shocked me. I didn’t realize it was coming up so soon. Damn. This season is flying by and yes, this Sunday is Week 8 so we’re about at the halfway point.
Two changes from last year, first, Rich Eisen and the gang will not be traveling to games this year. The pre and postgame shows will be produced from the NFL Network studios in Los Angeles.
And two, everyone’s favorite ex-Lions General Manager Matt Millen will be the analyst for Thursday Night Football. I’m sure the Lions fans will love hearing Millen’s opinions. This was the spot that was supposed to go to Jon Gruden before he bolted and went to ESPN for Monday Night Football.
To remind you of the schedule, I’ll post the following press release.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL KICKS OFF FOURTH SEASON ON NFL NETWORK
New Analyst Matt Millen Makes NFL Network Debut Nov. 12 with Bears at 49ers
Five First Place Teams on Eight-Game Slate Includes Giants at Broncos on Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Champion Steelers at Browns, Cowboys at Saints, and Chargers-Titans on Christmas
NFL.com LIVE Offers Complementary Coverage from Three Locations, Including Instant X & O Analysis from ‘Playbook’s’ Mike Mayock Live at NFL Films Headquarters
For the fourth straight season, NFL Network is home to Thursday Night Football featuring eight live regular-season primetime games and the anticipated return to the booth of highly acclaimed NFL analyst Matt Millen as he joins Bob Papa calling the action.
The schedule kicks off November 12 at 8:00 PM ET with the San Francisco 49ers hosting the Chicago Bears and includes a must-see Thanksgiving night matchup between the New York Giants and the first place Denver Broncos. Additional games on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football slate include NFL Network’s first live international telecast between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in Toronto on December 3, the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers at division rival Cleveland Browns on December 10, the Dallas Cowboys visiting the unbeaten New Orleans Saints on Saturday, December 19 and San Diego Chargers vs. Tennessee Titans in a special Christmas night tilt. Thursday Night Football begins at 8:00 PM ET, with the special Christmas game starting at 7:00 PM ET.
This season also marks the debut of new game analyst Matt Millen, replacing Cris Collinsworth in the booth alongside Bob Papa, who begins his second season as the voice of Thursday Night Football. A four-time Super Bowl winner in his playing days, Millen made a smooth transition into the broadcast booth as a highly acclaimed NFL analyst for FOX and CBS from 1995 to 2000. He was regularly mentioned as one of the best analysts on NFL games by the media and his broadcast peers. In addition to his television work, Millen was also the analyst for CBS Radio’s Monday night crew from 1997 to 2000. A fixture in the New York market since 1995, Papa is the voice of the New York Giants on WFAN and Giants Radio Network in addition to hosting the weekly morning show “Opening Drive” on Sirius XM Radio.
Prior to each game at 6:00 PM ET, NFL Network’s ensemble of Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci and Deion Sanders bring viewers Thursday Night Kickoff, a two-hour pregame show from the studio in Los Angeles. Thursday Night Kickoff covers all the storylines surrounding Thursday’s matchup, plus the latest news and information from around the league. NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora is on the ground at the stadium with up-to-the-minute injury reports. Eisen, Faulk, Mariucci and Sanders return for the Halftime Show and the Postgame Show with highlights and analysis of the game, while La Canfora contributes postgame interviews.
NFL.com delivers fans more analysis this year of Thursday Night Football via NFL.com/LIVE. NFL.com/LIVE presents a live show including; “live look-ins” of the game, reports from the field, game highlights, plus instant analysis from NFL Network talent from a trio of locations this season:
· NFL Network’s Los Angeles studios – Fran Charles and Jamie Dukes provide expert analysis and commentary to complement live look-ins with contributions for the first time from Faulk, Mariucci and Sanders.
· Exclusively on NFL.com from NFL Films’ New Jersey headquarters – NFL analyst Mike Mayock provides instant X & O analysis of key plays right after they happen, live from the Playbook studios.
· On-site – NFL Network’s team of reporters including: Scott Hanson, Solomon Wilcots, Paul Burmeister and Brian Baldinger rotate from game to game to have the stadium covered with live reports everywhere from the sidelines to the concession stand, taking the pulse of the atmosphere at each game.
Fans with NFL Mobile Live only from Sprint will also be able to watch all eight of NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football games live on their phone giving them the flexibility to watch the games wherever they are. NFL Mobile Live is available on most Sprint handsets at no additional cost to subscribers with a data plan.
NFL Network’s 2009 Thursday Night Football Schedule
Week 10: Thursday, November 12 at 8:00 PM ET
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers
Week 11: Thursday, November 19 at 8:00 PM ET
Miami Dolphins at Carolina Panthers
Week 12: Thursday, November 26 at 8:00 PM ET
New York Giants at Denver Broncos (Thanksgiving)
Week 13: Thursday, December 3 at 8:00 PM ET
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (in Toronto)
Week 14: Thursday, December 10 at 8:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Week 15: Thursday, December 17 at 8:00 PM ET
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 15: Saturday, December 19 at 8:00 PM ET
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
Week 16: Friday, December 25 at 7:00 PM ET
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans (Christmas)
In accordance to the NFL’s long-standing policy dating back to 1987, all NFL Network games will be carried on over-the-air television in the city of the visiting team and in the city where the game is played if it is sold out 72 hours in advance of kickoff.
All 24 Thursday Night Football games since 2006 have earned the top cable rating for the night among all programs on ad-supported cable.
With Comcast cable systems in the fold, these games will get a bigger audience than the first three seasons, but let us remember that other systems like Time Warner Cable still does not have an agreement with NFL Network so we will still be linking to stories about certain markets getting shut out of games. Oh joy.